We’ve loved following the career of the prodigious volleyball talent, Isabelle Haak. At 21 years old, it’s hard to comprehend what she’s already achieved in the sport and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her.
Having played since 11, Haak began her volleyball career at her local club, Engelholms VS not far from the Danish coast in south west Sweden. Displaying an uncanny natural ability, by the age of only 14 she was already representing the first team in the Elitserien, Sweden’s top division.
The effect of Haak’s inclusion in the team was immediate and the star Opposite helped the club to win two back to back Swedish Championships in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. The Swedish Volleyball Federation also named her Player of the Year in the same season.
2014 was a big year for Haak, making her Swedish international debut against Latvia on 10 May. At only 14 years old this feat meant she was the youngest ever Swedish player to represent their country at senior level.
And it wasn’t just on the hard court where the Swedish native had seen success. Together with her partner, Fanny Åhman, the pair finished just outside a podium position in the 2015 U18 European Beach Volleyball Championships in Riga.
2016 saw Haak sign to French club Béziers for one season. Haak’s father was French and she has family in the south of France so Béziers, close to the Mediterranean coast was a good fit for the 16 year old. During her time there, the club finished as runners-up in the French Cup and being the top scorer in the league, was voted the Most Valuable Player for the season.
Her last stop before signing to her present club was in Italy at Savino Del Bene Scandicci. Scandicci was able to offer Haak a spot in the first team with regular appearances, a factor which was fundamental in her choice of which club to move to. Some of the bigger clubs couldn’t promise this as she was still relatively unknown to the Italian leagues. Haak certainly made her mark, amassing 491 points in her first season there and becoming the league scoring champion. Her performance during the year began to turn the heads of the bookmakers and her live odds (or “live oddset” in her native tongue) continue to shorten with each blistering performance she delivered.
A transfer to Vakıfbank Istanbul, where Haak currently plays, opened the door to the potential of European volleyball’s biggest prizes. On signing at 19 years old, she became the youngest female volleyball player to receive a million euro contract. Vakıfbank had been crowned CEV Champions League Volley champions two out of the last three meetings in the lead up to the 2021 matches.
Haak’s team looked strong throughout the competition winning nine out of ten of their matches leading up to the finals. On 1 May, Vakıfbank Istanbul went up against the first seeds, Italian A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano in the CEV Super Finals. As reigning club world champions, The Panthers were always going to be stiff opposition for Istanbul, but it went right down to the wire. Ultimately, it was the Italian Panthers that came out on top, narrowly edging out Haak and the Vakıfbank squad and winning 3-2 in sets. Many considered the final as a pitting of Haak against Paola Egonu, Conegliano’s leading points scorer.
On top of coming a close second in the Champion’s League, 2020/21 was a good season for Vakıfbank, winning the Turkish Cup and also the misli.com Sultanlar Ligi by two wins over their closest rivals, Fenerbahçe Opet.
So with all this under her belt, what’s left for the Swedish superstar? Well, having so narrowly missed a Champions League first place this year, it’s top of her list, Haak told Swedish media outlet, Kvällsposten and we’re convinced it won’t be long until that comes true.
Another dream on her bucket list is to compete with the national team at the Olympics, she continued. Failing to qualify for Tokyo is a bitter pill to swallow but she’s optimistic that with enough work, this may become reality at some point in the future. When questioned, Haak suggested the way to do this is for young Swedish players to experience volleyball in other national leagues, in much the same way that she herself has done. Another factor is funding; at present, even the national Swedish team players aren’t sufficiently funded to be able to dedicate their time fully to the sport. The advantage Haak still has, of course, is time and there will be more opportunities for Sweden to qualify for future games with her at the helm as opposite spiker.